After months of speculation surrounding the future of his position, rapper/executive Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter announced today (December 24) that he will be stepping down from his job as Def Jam's president when his contract expires at the end of 2007. Music industry website Hits Daily Double reports that, although he will no longer oversee the label, he will remain a Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam recording artist. While rumors have circulated over the last few years about him joining former colleagues Lyor Cohen or Rick Rubin at the Warner Music Group or Columbia Records, respectively, no details were released about Jay taking on a new executive position in the future.

Jay stated: “I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have served as President of such a culturally-defining label as Def Jam over the last three years. During that time, I’ve had the pleasure of working with many of the world’s most dynamic artists and many of the most dedicated and talented executives in the music business today, including [IDJMG Chairman/ CEO] Antonio “L.A.” Reid. But now it’s time for me to take on new challenges. I am pleased to have had the opportunity to build upon the Def Jam legacy, helping to move the company into a new era of artistic success.”

L.A. Reid also added: “Jay made it clear to us that he feels the time has come to take on different challenges in his life. While we regret his decision to move on, we certainly respect it. Since Jay joined us as President of Def Jam in 2005, we have all benefited from his leadership, sense of spirit and invaluable friendship. While he will continue to be one of our signature artists, he will nonetheless be missed in this executive capacity. The entire Island Def Jam family joins me in wishing him the very best in all of his future business endeavors.”